Freedom of the Press
Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The independent media struggle in the face of continued political and economic pressure. Article 24 of the constitution bans censorship and provides for freedom of expression. The 1991 Law on the Press and Other Mass Media allows for a wide degree of press freedom; however, the law lacks effective enforcement mechanisms. To address weaknesses in existing legislation, parliament introduced the Law on Freedom of Speech and Media during 2002. Local nongovernmental organizations and civic groups generally applauded the measure but raised concerns that sections regarding media registration and national security could potentially restrict reporting. The bill passed on its first reading but had not entered into force by the end of the year. The 1999 administrative code provides for open access to public information. Adherence to this regulation varies widely. The limited space for press freedom diminishes rapidly outside the capital of Tbilisi. In June, the Bolnisi town mayor physically assaulted a female journalist after she reported on election irregularities in a recent local election. In September, law enforcement agents damaged equipment and assaulted the staff of a Zugdidi television station after the channel broadcast a story on police corruption. The great majority of print and broadcast outlets are privately owned; however, the state continues to maintain control over the only nationwide television and radio stations. Private media have demonstrated marked dependence on powerful economic or political interests.